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Volume 15, Issue 27 ~ July 5 - July 11, 2007

Public Figures

Over four months, 2871⁄2 pounds shed

by Bethany Rodgers

After four months of good-natured feuding and a storm of weight loss-related wit between County Councilman Ed Reilly and Delegate Bob Costa, the results are in. Contestants in the Southern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce’s Weight Challenge, the pair acted as arch enemies over its duration. Now — with June’s final weigh-in — all is said and lost. Costa beats Reilly — by a mere pound, with a grand loss of 22 pounds.

Costa is the winner only unofficially, however. He was bumped from the official competition after failing to show up for the first weigh-in. But the short, stocky delegate stayed focused on his diet.

His harried schedule as a state delegate and firefighter made grab-and-go eating hard to avoid. However, over time, he found ways to evade the drive-through window. “It helps if you keep a cooler in the car full of baby carrots,” he said. “They don’t help your eyesight, because I’ve eaten hundreds of them and my eyes aren’t any better. But they curb your appetite.”

Costa wants to lose an additional 20 pounds, but he’s already enjoying his new physique. “I feel better about my appearance when I do those profile checks in the mirror,” he said.

Costa’s weight loss took off after he left the challenge. For Reilly, on the other hand, public attention to his waistline spurred success. Reilly lost 21 pounds in the Weight Challenge by avoiding alcohol and sugar. Now he’ll depend on his exercise partner and wife to hold him accountable.

“She’ll keep me on target,” he said. Having a weight-loss buddy is Reilly’s key to dieting success. “If you try to do it on your own, it’s much harder,” he said.

Reilly dedicated his weight loss to his brother, who was battling throat cancer at the beginning of the competition. Now, according to Reilly, his brother is “well on the road to recovery” after painful and exhausting treatment. When he vacations at the beach with his family, Reilly plans to break his beer-fast and share one with his brother, celebrating their health.

Reilly no longer has to worry about whether that can of beer will come back to haunt him at a competition weigh-in. The dieters in the Weight Challenge, who had been contending since February, reached the finish line on June 16 at the South County Festival.

All together, the contestants lost a hefty 2871⁄2 pounds. The man and woman who slimmed the most took home winners’ prizes. Skip Catterton led the men by losing 381⁄2 pounds to weigh in at a svelte 177. Shannon Vranes won gold among the women by shedding 511⁄5 pounds.

“My kids were so proud,” said Vranes, 54, who also quit drinking alcohol and smoking during the competition.

The biggest rewards for Vranes weren’t the $200 cash prize and bunch of roses she received as the weight challenge champion. Her physical and emotional changes were what made the calorie-skimping worthwhile. “I think having energy is a big deal to me. I’m able to walk up and down steps now and do things,” she said.

For Vranes, losing the weight was simple if not easy; she “just cut back” on junk food and stopped eating after 6pm. As the owner of Shannon’s café in Shady Side, temptation comes with the job. By staying focused on the monthly weigh-in, she resisted the urge to graze.

Catterton also kept it simple and avoided the trend-diet trap. “I just pushed away from the table,” said Catterton, 49. Persistence and self-confidence are musts. “You can’t give up when it looks like you’re not losing weight,” he said.

“I would go two weeks without losing anything, then the third week I would drop four or five pounds.”

But for Vranes and Catterton, the real weight challenge still lies ahead. Vranes wants to drop another 30 pounds, while Catterton aims to stay slender. Now that the competition is over, these tasks are even more daunting.

There are ways to make maintenance easier, said Michael Mellor, the fitness director at Annapolis Athletic Club. Mellor said he would advise former contestants to keep track of what they eat. According to Mellor, you should be sure to eat breakfast and lunch so you don’t arrive at happy hour starving for cheesy nachos. “You need to catch up on all those calories you missed out on,” he said. “Your body is going to get them one way or another.”

Finally, Mellor advised giving yourself a break now and then. He said you could pick a day a week to enjoy a burger or some Häagen Dazs in moderation, so you don’t feel cheated out of your favorite snacks.

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